The title track of Memory Theater’s 2021 EP The Farthest Shore expresses the isolation and deep, emotional exhaustion and sense of resignation that many of us experienced throughout the 2020-2021 pandemic. The evolving, echoing layers of memory and melancholic vocals are a perfect analog to countless days of stasis and an almost ritualized existence. But in those repetitions and the minimalist synth lead we hear a resonant and familiar attempt to make sense of events beyond our control and moods in reaction to them that feel inescapable and permanent. “This Ending World” is a buoyant instrumental like a forgotten bit of incidental music from a 1980s coming of age comedy as if to express the perversity of a need to make the best of things in apocalyptic times while acknowledging the need to hold on to something that picks you up from a place of confusion, misery and hopelessness. “To Die in the Country” has an appropriate tone of menace with distorted and angular synth lines reminiscent of a musical descendant of D.A.F. and Chris Clark—darkly playful and urgent. The EP ends with “Lake of Flowers,” a song that sounds so uplifting but really expresses poignantly the feeling we all had that the pandemic wouldn’t and isn’t going to end because of the folly of human notions of their entitlement to narrow conceptions of liberty and that the best we can hope for is that nothing lasts forever including the pandemic and, if humanity can’t get its collective thing together, human civilization. This could all seem so bleak but these beautifully moody pop songs and their bright tonalities feel like a way to be honest about the feelings most people have had the past year and to not have to deny our humanity in the name of imposing a phony positivity that gets in the way of processing emotional trauma. You can listen to the EP and download, if you’re so inclined, on Bandcamp or listen to the title track and others on Spotify and connect with Memory Theater on Instagram linked below.
Immediately “Eyes Within Night” sounds like you’re getting a radio transmission from an AM college station in the late 1980s playing underground music in the pre-alternative rock era. Some of the frequencies sound washed out like it’s being played from a tape lovingly listened to countless times and preserved for posterity using a four track tape deck to convert it to digital. The keyboards and the Casiotone play off each other toward the end of the song like dueling synthesizers the dramatic way they might in some weird science fiction movie about rival gangs competing against each other in synth pop bands but with the vibe of Night of the Comet after an apocalyptic event that destroys most of the human race and people are rebuilding civilization and re-creating culture while solving conflict in artistic ways rather than through violence. Or like a New Wave Goth version of Breakin’ or Krush Groove. Who wouldn’t want to see that movie happen? Well memory theater, the Filipinx band from Berkeley, California has the perfect music for the soundtrack. Listen to “Eyes Within Night” on Spotify and follow the group on their Bandcamp page.